Sunday, July 31, 2016

Maximizing a book trailer's potential

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Book trailers are an awkward genre. Somewhere between movie trailer and short film, animation and PowerPoint presentation, spoken word performance and late-night informercial.

And very, very often, just plain bad. Sorry.

But book trailers are a new concept, and the quality of a nascent art form is always iffy. With book trailers, authors of extremely varying skills and background have to either cobble together their own movie or spend unknown thousands hiring someone to make it for them, of further unknown quality.

And who watches book trailers anyway?

Well, judging from my research checking Youtube View stats for hundreds of trailers... 

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Soul Pain of Receiving Feedback

"I would rather [FILL IN THE BLANK] than hear honest feedback about my writing."

Every region in the world has its natural disasters: tornados, floods, malaria, earthquakes. Up here in the Gritlands where artists are hard at work, we've been spared all of those. Perfect weather all year on stable ground. Great, right? Not so fast. Because what we have instead is potentially much worse: honest feedback.

Let's be honest about honest feedback: It hurts.

And oh, how you deal with it. Do these voices sound familiar?

But I want that chapter to be unclear.
You're not my target reader anyway. You just don't get it.
A vague sense of place and time is the effect I want.
I don't want to write like mainstream authors! They all suck.
Your suggestions take away all the style of my writing.
If you were a real friend, you'd be supportive of my writing.
Your comments made zero sense to me. None. At all.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Comp Titles for a #DiverseBook

"Who is your target audience?"

That's another question that I was too lazy to answer. Until this week.

Because now I'm getting ready for book launch [tightening my shoelaces and carb-loading] and with a 2-year-old kid to raise, I have to be wise with my time in approaching people to read an advanced copy of Trixi Pudong and the Greater World. It is fascinating how it stands out to me now who will read my book. And who won't.

I've been to writer's conferences and I've seen the kind of people who won't give my book the time of day, not in a million years. Here they are:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Physical Writing: Getting Into Character

Physical theater? No, I'm talking about physical writing.

One of the most abstract, difficult elements of good writing is cleaning up the narrative's point of view (POV). That was a concept that I had a hard time getting my mind wrapped around. Now that I get it, I spot this weakness in other books that I read too.

What does it actually mean?

Take this example:

The stray cat walked carefully around the corner of the church which was commissioned by King Henry in the 11th century. In the front of the church, the cat encountered a cheerful goat which was bleating with glee. The cat, unfamiliar with such a large creature, rounded its back and hissed. Upon hearing the car's threatening call, the goat became suspicious and looked silently at the cat.

Ok. Besides that I've dived into an impossible scenario with a cat and a goat, here are the problems with the paragraph's POV:

Friday, July 1, 2016

On being a reluctant citizen of the Gritlands

"What does it mean to be an artist?"

If there was ever a prelude to a pretentious conversation, that's it. I despise that tattered cliche of a question, "What does it mean to be an artist?" I never ever thought I'd opine about it myself. Yet here I am.

I learned one winter evening what it means to be an artist. But not in the sense of the "artist" wearing a black turtleneck and beret, scribbling in a Moleskin notebook while sipping a cappuccino in Soho. I mean "artist" as a completely normal person in jeans and a grey sweater, having cheap Thai dinner one night with a dear close friend who asked me, "How have you been?"

I answered, "Depressed."

"Tell me about it, dear," she said.

And then I discovered what it means to be an artist.